Flexible solar panels are incredibly versatile and have benefited the lives of the many who have opted to use them. They save you on your electricity bill and can drastically reduce your carbon footprint. While they can last decades, sometimes they need to be removed.
To remove your flexible solar panel remove any bolts that secure it. Most panels will have an adhesive for extra securement too. You’ll need a heat gun and a scraper to remove the adhesive bond between the surface and the solar panel. Lastly, remove any leftover adhesive from the surface.
Flexible solar panels are popular for many reasons, including their ability to be shaped in various ways. If you have flexible solar panels installed on your home, RV, or trailer, you will want to ensure that you know how to remove them properly.
Here’s our guide for safely and effectively removing flexible solar panels from their mounting surfaces.
1. Ensure You Have All the Correct Tools
The flexible solar panel can often be removed with a bit of elbow grease, but if you don’t have the right tools, you risk damaging the panel.
Flexible solar panels are typically attached to a backing material. This makes them quickly installed and replaced but also makes them susceptible to damage as they’re often not strong enough to withstand much force.
If you want to remove a flexible solar panel, ensure you have the right tools available to avoid damage to the panel and the attached surface. You’ll need:
- A heat gun
- A wrench or screwdriver
It’s important to note when removing the panel no matter how careful you are, there’s a chance that you could accidentally damage the panel’s surface. Be sure to take extra care.
2. Remove Any Bolts or Screws That Secure Your Solar Panel
If you have a flexible solar panel in your home, there is a good chance it has some bolts or screws on the four corners of it. These help secure it to the surface that it’s installed on.
While these are very useful for keeping your panel from moving around and getting damaged, they’re also something you’ll have to take out if you want to remove the panel.
It’s important to note that not all flexible panels will have bolts or screws. Some will only be attached to the surface with an adhesive.
Bolts and screws are easy to remove. To remove a bolt with a nut, you’ll simply need a wrench to turn the nut in an anti-clockwise direction. Edward Tools Adjustable Wrench (available on Amazon) is perfect for the job because it will fit any size bolt. It locks into an adjusted width and comes with a lifetime warranty.
To remove screws, you’ll need a screwdriver. The screws will either be a Phillips or flat head. If you don’t have a screwdriver on demand, they’re also easily accessible online.
The Rotation Magnetic Tip Screwdriver Set (also on Amazon) comes with three Phillips and three flat head screwdrivers to cover you for all situations.
3. Remove the Panel From Its Adhesive
Figuring out how to remove a flexible solar panel from the adhesive can be challenging because, obviously, what good is the panel if it won’t stay where you want it?
The panel has an adhesive on one side designed to stick to the top of your roof or other surfaces.
An adhesive is a chemical or substance that forms a bond between two surfaces. In most cases, we’re talking about some sort of sticky goo that’s dried, but in other cases, it can be something like glue.
The main thing that all adhesives have in common is that they’re used to join two objects together and stay stuck very well.
There are many kinds of adhesives with different levels of stickiness and strength, but they all have the same goal.
Removing a flexible solar panel from its adhesive may seem daunting, but it’s straightforward with the right supplies.
First of all, you’ll need to have the presence of mind to avoid trying to do this in a rush because even though it’s not technically challenging, it requires patience and must be handled delicately, or you risk damaging the panel or surface.
Some people use a blade to pry away at the adhesive. The method I found most successful was to use a scraper.
A bent scraper is probably best; it won’t damage the surface and is easier to handle than a blade. This method is quick and less intensive than others.
Scrapers can be purchased at any local hardware store. However, the Amazon Basics Soft Grip Scraper is of excellent quality. It’s bent, making it easier to avoid damaging your surface and making your job easier and safer.
Alternatively, you could use a blade of sorts. However, it can be a real pain and time-intensive when trying to separate two surfaces without causing damage. And in most cases, knives aren’t as efficient as they should be.
A heated object will be easier to cut through an adhesive than one that isn’t. The best way to do this is with a heat gun.
If you don’t have access to one, you’ll find Seek One’s 1800W Heat Gun on Amazon, which is perfect for the job and allows you to control the temperature.
Be sure to heat the scraper or knife with a heat gun before cutting through the adhesive. This will make the job much easier.
4. Use a Scraper To Remove Residual Adhesive From Surface
After you’ve removed the solar panel from the surface it was attached to, you may find that you have a layer of old adhesive left behind. Don’t worry–it’s not difficult to remove.
The residual adhesive is almost always easy to remove from most surfaces, but it can be a pain to scrub off. In most cases, you’ll be able to grab the adhesive with your fingers and pull pieces off at once.
When the adhesive seems too strong to pull away, gently scrape away at it using a scraper. You will want to pay extra attention and be careful to ensure you don’t scrape or damage the surface.
Here is a YouTube video to guide you through this process:
Flexible solar panels have many advantages, from being portable to the fact that they can be mounted on curved surfaces. However, removing these panels is more complex than ordinary solar panels, and you must use a more gentle approach.
The good news is that flexible solar panels can be removed and moved to another location. You just don’t want to do it with the wrong tools. For this job, it’s best to use a heat gun and a scraper.
- NUCamp T@BForum: Flexible Solar Panel Removal
- Solartechadvisor: Can you Glue a Flexible Solar Panel?
- Solar4rvs: Flexible Solar Panel Mounting Instruction Guide
- Britannica: adhesive
- The Renewable Energy Hub UK: What are Flexible Solar Panels
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